The Girl Next Door(9)

By: Jordan Blake


When I’d asked her what she would do when she ran out of Annie songs, she’d just shrugged. “I guess I’ll have to move on to Anne and Anna.”

“But that doesn’t make sense. It’s not even your name.”

Another shrug. “Close enough. Plus, that leaves Anna Begins by Counting Crows in my future, and no plan including that song can be anything but awesome.”

I had to grin now, thinking of that conversation. She was the smartest, quickest person I’d ever met, and she had a system for everything. Even if some of her ideas were a little unconventional, her level of confidence in them was comforting.

I picked up my phone and swiped the screen to answer as I flopped down on my bed. “Hey, Annie. What’s up?”

“Just checking in. How’s your visit going? Were your parents surprised?”

I snorted. “More like I was surprised. They’re not even home. My dad took my mom on some last-minute tropical getaway. I’m here by myself.”

“Well, are you enjoying the solitude, at least?”

I hesitated, unsure how to answer. “Yeah…”

Come on. That tone didn’t even convince you.

“All right, spill. What happened?”

I sighed, surrendering to inevitability. I knew I was going to end up telling Annie all about my Dinner of Humiliation, whether it was after ten minutes of hemming and hawing or not. Might as well just bite the bullet.

“When I was going out to buy groceries, my neighbor invited me over for dinner.”

“The neighbor?”

“Yes.”

“Mr. Bean?”

“Oh God. Why do you always call him that? I looked it up. That’s like, this bumbling, dorky character who never even says anything. Drew is nothing like that.”

“Oh, it’s Drew now? Hmmmm…we’ll get back to that. But I call him Mr. Bean because you flick your bean every time you think about him. Metaphorically, if not literally. I imagine it’s literally more often than not.”

My cheeks heated as I tried to put together a snappy reply. Childishly, I blurted out, “I do not!”

A sigh came over the line, and I could picture Annie shaking her head in disappointment. “Oh, Dakota. Really? That was neither clever nor true. Come on. You’re better than that.”

I had to laugh, which was exactly what I needed. “Anyway, I went over for dinner. I found out he split up with his wife this past fall. So I decided to… you know, go for it.”

Annie’s voice was slow and cautious. “I shudder to even ask this, but what precisely do you mean by ‘go for it’ in this context?”

“Kiss him.”

“Oh, that’s not so bad.”

“I mean, I was planning to do more after. It was gonna be a whole seduction scene. I even Googled it.”

“You Googled it? Well, I can’t imagine what could possibly go wrong with that level of research, but my curiosity is Mt. Everest-sized piqued.”

I sighed. “It didn’t go wrong so much as just never go.”

“OK. Rewind. What exactly happened?”

“We had dinner. We were talking. And I worked up the nerve to kiss him…”

“Yeah. Got that much. What next?”

“I chickened out. I ran out the front door and back to my house. I didn’t even stop to close his front door. In fact, it might still be open.”

“So…your Googling did not pay off, then.”

“Understatement.”

“You know what the problem is? You need to lose your virginity. You’ve got all this pent-up sexual tension you think Mr. Bean can solve because you’ve spent so much time fantasizing about how great he is in the sack. But that’s all conjecture your brain is hanging on to because you have nothing to compare it to. Once you lose your virginity, you’ll see that your neighbor isn’t some magical sex god. He’s just a dude…who’s spent a ridiculous amount of time starring in your mind-porn, sure. But, still. Just a dude.”

“What are you talking about? I’m not a virgin!”

“You are a virgin. Just because you’ve had sex a few times doesn’t mean you’re not a virgin.”

“Um…pretty sure that’s exactly what it means.”